Focusing on your gut health is something that can help you support your health in ways beyond helping you go to the bathroom a bit more regularly. From supporting your immune health to possibly supporting your mental health, your gut health can have a profound impact on your overall well-being. Sure, it may sound surprising that the condition of your gut can play into so many aspects of your health, but prioritizing your gut health can truly impact so many facets of how you feel.
In fact, recent studies have suggested that the intestinal microbiome plays an important role in reducing the risk of several chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. At the same time, it is now understood that diet plays a major role in how healthy our gut is, specifically by how healthy our gut microbiome is. Some data shows that changes in diet can impact the gut microbiome in as little as 24 hours.
So, what is a good health-friendly diet? Generally speaking, a diet that is rich in plant-based and fiber-rich foods and foods that contain live probiotics are going to make the bulk of your food choices. Low-fiber and refined carbs, concentrated sweets, and sugary drinks are going to be enjoyed less frequently (but not never — we would never tell you to skip a slice of cake on your birthday!).
Supporting your gut health does not mean having to lean on trendy wellness shots, supplements, or powders that claim to keep your gut wellness in check. Leaning on some simple-to-make and totally delicious recipes that contain certain ingredients that are full of fiber, probioticsand other important factors can help you support your gut health in a super-approachable and satisfying way.
If you are looking to try your hand at whipping up some good health-friendly recipes in your own kitchen, here are six delicious ones for you to try.
This grilled chicken and avocado salad is chock-full of gut health-supporting ingredients like veggies and avocado. But the shining star of this good-for-your-gut salad is the addition of walnuts.
Walnuts are not only a nutritional powerhouse that has a nice balance of healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber to help give this salad some staying power, but these nuts also play a role in the gut microbiome.
A study published in Nutrients found that consuming a walnut-enriched diet positively impacted the gut microbiome by enhancing “good” probiotic and butyric acid-producing bacteria. Butyric acid is thought to be useful for digestive health by helping to maintain the health of the colon. Plus, a study from the USDA and University of Illinois, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that walnut consumption was associated with positive changes to the gut microbiome. Adults who ate 42 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of walnuts each day for three weeks experienced an increase in beneficial gut bacteria and a decrease in secondary bile acids, which may play a role in colon cancer, inflammation, and gastrointestinal diseases.
This salad can be an easy go-to recipe on busy days when you want to eat nourishing foods and keep your gut health in check at the same time.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken and Avocado Salad.
When people think of gut health, they do not always think about dessert options. But this sorbet is totally gut health-friendly, thanks to the inclusion of whole kiwi fruits (including the skin!), which gives this treat a hefty dose of fiber. Combining nutritious ingredients like kiwi and fresh orange juice and leaning on a Ninja ™ CREAMi® machine to create a simple sorbet makes eating to support gut health totally delicious and simple to do.
Get the recipe from Nutrition Now Counseling.
Beans in general are the ultimate gut health-supporting food. The dietary fiber found in beans, called resistant starch, does not break down in the small intestine, ultimately entering the colon in its whole form. This starch will be fermented and produce certain fatty acids as a byproduct, causing a lower pH environment where potentially harmful bacteria (like e.coli) cannot thrive. This slow cooker bean soup is filling, nutrient-packed, and incredibly easy to make.
Get our recipe for Slow Cooker Cuban Tomato and Black Bean Soup.
Coleslaw is typically drowning in heavier additions like mayonnaise. But this slaw recipe lets the gut health-friendly veggies shine. Loaded with a variety of cabbage for fiber, Greek yogurt for live gut health-supporting cultures, and carrots for a natural crunch, this coleslaw is a versatile side that can be enjoyed multiple times a week.
Get our recipe for Easy Healthy Coleslaw.
The combo of beans and vegetables gives this dish a healthy dose of a variety of good health-friendly fibers, along with important vitamins and minerals. Make a large batch of this salad and store leftovers in the fridge to enjoy all week long.
Get the recipe from The View from Great Island.
Sauerkraut is one of the best gut health-friendly foods thanks to the fiber and lives beneficial bacteria, called probiotics. Like all fermented foods, eating sauerkraut helps colonize the gut with the “good” bacteria to help you experience positive gut health. Add this sauerkraut to sandwiches or include it on top of your veggie dog for a probiotic boost.
Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker.
Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more